Asus’ P5Q and P5Q3 Deluxe motherboards

Manufacturer Asus
Model P5Q Deluxe
P5Q3 Deluxe
Price (MSRP) $209 (P5Q)
$229 (P5Q3)
Availability Soon

Consistency is a hard thing to come by in this industry, but year after year, Intel has managed to deliver excellent mid-range core logic chipsets. Since its launch last spring, the P35 Express has been the best bang-for-your-buck Core 2 chipset on the market—a position inherited from its P965 predecessor, which was the LGA775 platform of choice in its day. The P965’s crown, of course, was a hand-me-down from the Intel 915P chipset that came before it, which in turn, well, you get the picture.

Intel’s mid-range chipsets are perhaps the very definition of the sweet spot; they offer nearly all the performance of the company’s high-end chipsets and comparable features at a fraction of the cost. Trickle-down is a wonderful thing indeed, and its value hasn’t been lost on motherboard makers, which tend to eagerly snap up Intel’s latest mid-range chipsets and deploy them across a wide range of different products. We’ve seen the latest P35 Express featured in stripped-down budget boards selling for less than $100, enthusiast-oriented offerings draped in indulgent excess that cost $200 and up, and all points in between.

Given the impressive flexibility and consistent quality of Intel’s mid-range chipsets, we’ve naturally been looking forward to the new P45 Express with bated breath. This successor to the P35 hasn’t yet been formally announced, but we managed to get our hands on P45-based P5Q and P5Q3 Deluxe motherboards from Asus to run through the wringer. Read on to see if Intel’s latest mid-range chipset lives up to its lineage.

P45 under the hood

While some motherboard makers garishly adorn their enthusiast boards with neon, glow-in-the-dark, or otherwise look-at-me trim, Asus manages to keep the P5Q and P5Q3 Deluxe looking classy. The boards still have a little flash thanks to polished copper heatsinks and blue accents, but it’s the kind of restrained bling that shouldn’t offend anyone. Looks don’t matter, of course, unless you’re going to be admiring your system through a case window—something that a PC enthusiast particularly proud of their rig might be inclined to do from time to time. Not that I’d ever admit to such a thing.

The star of the P5Q line is Intel’s new P45 Express chipset, which in a bit of a surprise, only offers official support for front-side bus speeds up to 1333MHz. We’d expected the P45 to natively support 1600MHz front-side bus speeds like Intel’s high-end X48 chipset, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Official limitations haven’t stopped Asus from making faster front-side bus speeds available in the BIOS, though. More on those in a moment.

Like the P35 Express that preceded it, the P45’s memory controller supports either DDR2 or DDR3 memory. Asus’ P5Q Deluxe is built for the former with the P5Q3 Deluxe equipped for the latter. Apart from their memory slots, the boards are identical. We don’t expect there to be much interest in the P5Q3 given current memory prices, though; DDR3 is still far too expensive in relation to DDR2 to justify its marginal performance and power consumption advantages.

At least both boards share the same layout, which is generally excellent. Primary and auxiliary power plugs are located right along the edges of the board where we like to see them, reducing airflow-constricting cable clutter around the CPU socket. This power plug placement can be problematic for upside-down cases or extremely small mid-towers that have little clearance between the motherboard and PSU, but it’s the best compromise for the majority of systems. An auxiliary 12V power plug extender can easily remedy compatibility issues with upside-down cases, anyway.

Asus unsurprisingly rings the CPU socket on its P5Qs with a collection of heatpipe-linked passive heatsinks. This chipset and voltage circuitry cooling uses relatively low-profile cooling fins, leaving enough clearance for larger aftermarket processor heatsinks like Scythe’s enormous Ninja. An auxiliary cooling fan that clips onto the chipset cooler is also provided for systems with limited ambient airflow.

We didn’t need the fan on our open test bench or through most of our overclocking testing, suggesting that the P45 runs very cool indeed. The P45 Express chipset is fabbed using a 65nm process node that should yield lower power consumption—and therefore less heat output—than previous Intel chipsets based on 90nm fabrication technology.

To further reduce power consumption, the P5Qs also feature what Asus calls an Energy Processing Unit that fine-tunes the power supplied to the processor and other system components at lower load levels. The EPU is capable of scaling CPU power phases, too, throttling the board’s 16 power phases down to just eight or four depending on system load.

The P45 Express chipset features a new ICH10R south bridge, which as far as we can tell, is little more than a die-shrunk ICH9R. No new hotness here, just the same six 300MB/s Serial ATA RAID ports you got on the ICH9R. Five of those ports are smartly placed out of the way of longer graphics cards, but the sixth can be a bit problematic.

Since the ICH10R doesn’t resurrect “parallel” ATA support, Asus has to opt for an auxiliary storage controller from Marvell to provide an IDE port. The Marvell chip also snakes a little eSATA love to the port cluster, but it isn’t the only extra storage chip onboard. Asus also throws in some Silicon Image, er, silicon that has two SATA ports of its own that can be combined in RAID 0 and 1 arrays, or a combination of the two similar to Intel’s Matrix RAID. What makes this RAID implementation particularly interesting is that the Silicon Image chip performs all array calculations in hardware and doesn’t require any drivers. Arrays present themselves to the operating system as standard ATA devices that are, interestingly enough, connected to the Marvell chip’s second Serial ATA.

PCI Express 2.0 finally hits Intel’s mainstream chipsets in the P45 Express, whose north bridge contains 16 lanes of gen-two connectivity. On the P5Qs, these lanes can be split evenly between the first and second x16 slots or all dedicated to the first slot depending on how many graphics cards are installed. CrossFire is supported, of course, and there’s even a third x16 slot hooked into the south bridge. The ICH10R’s PCI Express implementation conforms to the older 1.1 standard, so there isn’t quite as much bandwidth to go around. That third x16 slot only gets four lanes of bandwidth, and it has to share them with the board’s two x1 slots. Onboard storage and networking controllers monopolize the remaining two south bridge PCIe lanes.

With an impressive seven expansion slots in total, the P5Qs even have room for a couple of old-school PCI slots. Squeezing in all those slots isn’t an easy feat, though. Limited clearance between the memory modules and top PCI and PCIe x1 slots precludes the use of expansion cards longer than 74mm. You won’t be able to run a double-wide CrossFire threesome, either.

High-end motherboards tend to provide a cornucopia of connectivity options, and the P5Qs are no exception. There’s a little of everything here, including a single PS/2 port that can be used with either a mouse or a keyboard, but not both. That doesn’t really help my PS/2 KVM switch, but it should appease users who may be unwilling to part with vintage buckling spring keyboards.

In the audio department, the port cluster is stacked with two flavors of digital S/PDIF output and a full complement of analog input and output ports, all fed by a new Analog Devices AD2000B codec chip. The AD2000B is an Asus exclusive, although it’s unclear exactly how the chip differs from the older AD1988B. At the very least, it’s disappointing that the AD2000B can’t encode DTS or Dolby Digital Live bitstreams on the fly like some of Realtek’s high-end audio codecs.

Dual Gigabit Ethernet options are common these days, and you’d think they’d be an easy feature to implement properly. Asus gets halfway there, too, tying one of the GigE ports to a PCI Express-based networking chip from Marvell. But the second GigE port is connected to a different Marvell chip that rides the slower (and shared) PCI bus, continuing an Asus tradition of fouling its high-end motherboards with at least one Gigabit chip that will be bottlenecked by the PCI bus. I suppose we can forgive Asus this time around because the P5Qs also come with integrated 802.11 Wi-Fi—a feature that will probably be more useful to most folks than a second GigE jack.

As is customary for high-end Asus motherboards, the P5Qs come with a few extra goodies. Buried under the usual mess of cables and manuals you’ll find a pair of Wi-Fi antennas for use with the integrated 802.11n wireless controller and the auxiliary chipset cooling fan. Asus throws in a set of front panel connector blocks that really come in handy when putting systems together, too.

Speaking of little extras, we should also note that like many other high-end motherboards, the P5Qs are adorned exclusively with solid-state, conductive polymer capacitors. Contrary to some reports, Asus insists that these capacitors are all Japanese-made. You’ll also find low RDS(on) MOSFETs and ferrite core chokes throughout, which Asus says makes the P5Qs more reliable overall and more stable when overclocked.

BIOS options and tweaking software

Asus has been catering to overclockers and enthusiasts for years, so it’s no surprise that even early P5Q BIOS revisions are stacked with tweaking options. These options are present in both the P5Q and P5Q3, whose BIOSes only differ when it comes to memory bus speeds and DRAM voltages.


Bus speeds
FSB: 200-800MHz in
1MHz increments

PCIe: 100-180MHz in 1MHz increments
DDR (P5Q3):
667,800,835,887,1002,1066,1111,1333,1600,1800MHz
DDR (P5Q):
667,800,835,887,1002,1066,1111,1333MHz


Bus multipliers
CPU: 6x-8x (Core
2 Duo E6750)
Voltages CPU: 0.85-2.1V in 0.00625V increments

CPU GTL ref 0/2: 0.37-0.76x in 0.005x increments
CPU GTL ref 1/3: 0.41-0.8x in 0.005x
increments

FSB: 1.1-1.9V in
0.02V increments
CPU PLL:
1.5-2.78V in 0.02V increments
DRAM (P5Q3): 1.5-2.78V in 0.02V increments

DRAM (P5Q): 1.8-3.08V in 0.02V increments

NB: 1.2-2.06V in 0.02V increments
NB GTL ref: 0.37-0.76x in 0.005x
increments
SB: 1.1-1.3V in 0.1V increments
PCIe SATA: 1.5-1.8V in 0.1V
increments


Monitoring
Voltage, fan
status, and temperature monitoring

Fan speed control
CPU, chassis

Overclockers will certainly have no shortage of options to play with here, as front-side bus speed options go all the way up to 800MHz (3200MHz with quad-pumping taken into account). Core multiplier control is available, as well, in addition to a healthy array of memory bus speed options. The P5Q3 has a couple of additional options on the memory bus front, which makes sense given that DDR3 is already scaling to much higher speeds than DDR2.

Voltage manipulation is an important component of the overclocking equation, and the P5Qs are well-equipped in that department, too. You can feed up to 2.1V to the processor, and if undervolting’s your thing, the CPU voltage can be dropped as low as 0.85V. Couple plenty of CPU voltage headroom with support for DDR2 voltages up to 3.08V and DDR3 voltages up to 2.78V and the P5Qs look like prime candidates for even extreme overclocking endeavors. And there’s no shortage of chipset voltages to manipulate, either. Heck, you can even fiddle with the GTL reference voltage of the north bridge.

As one might expect given their wealth of overclocking options, the P5Qs enable all kinds of memory tweaking. The four most popular timing controls sit atop a very long list of additional options. We have no clue what most of them do, but the sheer volume of available timings is impressive nonetheless.

Unfortunately, fan speed controls aren’t quite as encouraging. Sure, you can enable temperature-based fan speed control for the CPU and system fan headers, but there’s no ability to set temperature targets or actual fan speeds. One would think, with so much time an effort obviously going into loading up on overclocking options, that Asus would be able to dedicate some extra development effort to BIOS-level fan speed control.

The P5Qs do pack a little extra love in their respective BIOSes, though. Asus has integrated a handy flashing utility alongside support for multiple BIOS configuration profiles. Users also have control over Express Gate—an embedded Linux operating system that runs off an onboard flash memory chip that’s hooked into one of the ICH10R’s USB ports.

Express Gate is far from a fully-functional OS, but it does provide web browsing, chat, Skype, and picture gallery applications. The OS also supports USB storage devices, making it easy to load up a flash drive with the latest BIOS and driver revisions before you set up a system—a handy capability if you don’t have access to a second machine.

Asus has already announced plans to put Express Gate on more of its motherboards, and that’s not a bad idea. However, with its current application payload, the OS is a little short on real world utility. It would really be useful if Express Gate integrated an NTFS-aware file browser for data recovery and maybe even a disk imaging tool. Processor and memory stress testing applications would be useful for overclockers, too.

The P5Qs come with Asus’ usual assortment of AI Suite and PC Probe overclocking, tweaking, and hardware monitoring software for Windows. There’s nothing fresh on that front, but Asus has whipped up a new utility to control its Energy Processing Unit (EPU). This Six Engine app monitors wattages and tracks reductions in CO2 emissions, should you want to impress (or frighten) Prius drivers with your system’s carbon footprint. More importantly, it allows users to switch between various energy saving modes to reduce system power consumption.

Six Engine looks impressive on the surface, offering four different operating modes. One of those modes is a turbo configuration that overclocks the processor, so it’s not terribly useful from an energy savings perspective. The medium setting isn’t that appealing, either; it resorts to throttling the front-side bus speed (down to 1200MHz with our 1333MHz FSB CPU) to conserve power, even when the system is under load. The low power mode is even worse, using a slower front-side bus speed and locking the CPU multiplier at its lowest available value, reducing a Core 2 Duo E6750 that should run at 2.66GHz to a lowly 1.8GHz. If you don’t want to sacrifice performance for power efficiency, you’re left with Six Engine’s high performance mode, which is the only one that doesn’t monkey with multipliers or bus speeds.

We’re all for aggressive power saving schemes, but we don’t really see the point of Six Engine’s medium and low power modes. Intel’s SpeedStep and C1E Enhanced Halt State already manipulate clock speeds to conserve power, and they at least do so intelligently so as not to impact system performance.

Specifics on specifications

If you prefer to peruse motherboard specifications in chart form, we’ve whipped up a handy specifications sheet for the P5Q and P5Q3 Deluxe below. Enjoy.


P5Q Deluxe

P5Q3 Deluxe

CPU support
LGA775-based Celeron, Pentium
4/D, Core 2 processors
LGA775-based Celeron, Pentium
4/D, Core 2 processors

North bridge
Intel P45 Express Intel P45 Express

South bridge
Intel ICH10R Intel ICH10R

Interconnect
DMI (2GB/s) DMI (2GB/s)

Expansion slots
3 PCI Express x16

2 PCI Express x1
2 32-bit/33MHz PCI

3 PCI Express x16

2 PCI Express x1
2 32-bit/33MHz PCI


Memory
4 240-pin DIMM
sockets

Maximum of 16GB of DDR2-667-1200 SDRAM

4 240-pin DIMM
sockets

Maximum of 16GB of DDR3-667-1800 SDRAM


Storage I/O
Floppy disk

1 channel ATA/133 via Marvell 88SE6121

6 channels 300MB/s Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 support
2 channels
300MB/s Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1 support via Silicon Image SiI 5723

Floppy disk

1 channel ATA/133 via Marvell 88SE6121

6 channels 300MB/s Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 support
2 channels
300MB/s Serial ATA with RAID 0, 1 support via Silicon Image SiI 5723

Audio 8-channel HD audio via Analog
Devices AD2000B codec
8-channel HD audio via Analog
Devices AD2000B codec
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard/mouse

6 USB
2.0 with headers for 4 more

1 RJ45 10/100/1000 via Marvell 88E8056

1 RJ45 10/100/1000 via Marvell 88E8001

1
eSATA via Marvell 88SE6121
1 1394a Firewire via
LSI L-FW3227 with header for 1 more

802.11n Wi-Fi via Ralink RT2770F

1 analog front out
1 analog bass/center out

1 analog rear out

1 analog surround out

1 analog line in

1 analog mic in
1 digital TOS-Link S/PDIF out
1 digital coaxial S/PDIF
out

1 PS/2 keyboard/mouse

6 USB
2.0 with headers for 4 more

1 RJ45 10/100/1000 via Marvell 88E8056

1 RJ45 10/100/1000 via Marvell 88E8001

1
eSATA via Marvell 88SE6121
1 1394a Firewire via
LSI L-FW3227 with header for 1 more

802.11n Wi-Fi via Ralink RT2770F

1 analog front out
1 analog bass/center out

1 analog rear out

1 analog surround out

1 analog line in

1 analog mic in
1 digital TOS-Link S/PDIF out
1 digital coaxial S/PDIF
out

Our testing methods

Before busting out some benchmarks, we should note that the boards we’re testing are early samples whose BIOSes are still being tuned. We’ll reserve final judgment on the P45 Express chipset until we have production boards with final BIOSes, settling for a performance preview of sorts with the P5Qs.

All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged.

Processor

Core 2 Duo E6750 2.67GHz
System bus 1333MHz (333MHz
quad-pumped)

Motherboard


Asus P5K3 Deluxe


Asus P5E3 Deluxe


Gigabyte X48T-DQ6


XFX MB-N790I-UL9


Intel DX48BT2
Asus P5Q3 Deluxe

XFX MB-N780-ISH9
Asus P5Q Deluxe

Asus Rampage Formula
Bios revision 0604 0201 F4D 811N1P0 1521.EB 0302 2.053.B2 0302 0219

North bridge
Intel P35 Express Intel X38 Express Intel X48 Express nForce 790i
SLI Ultra SPP
Intel X48 Express Intel P45 Express nForce 780i SLI SPP Intel P45 Express Intel X48 Express

South bridge
Intel ICH9R Intel ICH9R Intel ICH9R nForce 790i
SLI MCP
Intel ICH9R Intel ICH10R nForce 780i SLI MCP Intel ICH10R Intel ICH9R
Chipset drivers Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.8.0.1012

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.8.0.1012

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.8.0.1012


ForceWare 9.64
Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.8.0.1012


Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI
8.0.0.1039

ForceWare 9.46
Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI
8.0.0.1039

Chipset 8.3.1.1009

AHCI 7.8.0.1012

Memory size 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs) 2GB (2 DIMMs)

Memory type


Corsair CM3X1024-1600C7DHX DDR3 SDRAM
at 1333MHz


Corsair CM2X2048-8500C5 DDR2 SDRAM
at 800MHz
CAS latency
(CL)
7 7 7 7 7 7 4 4 4
RAS to CAS
delay (tRCD)
7 7 7 7 7 7 4 4 4
RAS precharge
(tRP)
7 7 7 7 7 7 4 4 4
Cycle time
(tRAS)
21 21 21 21 21 21 12 12 12

Audio codec
Integrated AD1988B with
5.10.1.6110 drivers
Integrated AD1988B with
7.0.0.0 drivers
Integrated ALC889A with 1.88
drivers
Integrated ALC888S
with 1.88 drivers

Integrated 9274D with 5762.5713.v68 drivers
Integrated AD2000B with 6.10.1.6480 drivers Integrated ALC888S
with 1.88 drivers
Integrated AD2000B with 6.10.1.6480 drivers Integrated AD1988B with
6.10.1.6280 drivers
Graphics

GeForce 8800 GT 1GB PCIe
with ForceWare 169.25 drivers
Hard drive
Western Raptor X 150GB
OS

Windows Vista Ultimate x86
with KB936710, KB938194, KB938979, KB940105
updates

Thanks to Corsair for providing us with memory for our testing.

All of our test systems were powered by OCZ GameXStream 700W power supply units. Thanks to OCZ for providing these units for our use in testing.

Finally, we’d like to thank Western Digital for sending Raptor WD1500ADFD hard drives for our test rigs.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Overclocking

We kicked off our overclocking tests by dropped the CPU multiplier to 6X—its lowest possible value. We also reduced the memory bus speed to keep our DIMMs operating within their limits. Next, we turned our attention to the front-side bus on each board, cranking it up and using a two-way Prime95 load to test stability along the way.

The P5Q3 Deluxe sailed all the way up to a 500MHz front-side bus without so much as batting an eyelash. We had to add the auxiliary chipset fan to get the board stable at a 510MHz FSB, and that was all she wrote. Applying a little extra chipset voltage managed to coax a 520MHz front-side bus into Windows, but our stress test quickly spat out errors or crashed the system. Additional voltage wasn’t of any help, either.

Like the P5Q3, the P5Q Deluxe sailed up to a 500MHz front-side bus speed without issue. Our board would go no further, though, even with extra voltages and the auxiliary chipset fan.

Given that we’re dealing with early samples, the fact that neither P5Q had problems handling 500MHz front-side bus speeds with stock voltages and passive cooling certainly bodes well for the P45 Express’ overclocking potential. The P35 was no slouch in this department either, so I suppose we shouldn’t be terribly surprised.

In addition to pushing the front-side bus speeds, we also took a stab at memory overclocking. The P5Qs sport a feature called Memory OC Charger, which according to Asus, is the culmination of efforts to improve DRAM signal quality to enable higher memory bus speeds. Asus has a list of OC Charger-validated memory modules that includes DIMMs from Corsair, OCZ, Kingston, GeIL, and others, and our DDR3 modules just happened to be on that list.

The DIMMs are only rated for operation at up to 1600MHz, but we managed to push them to an effective 1840MHz on the P5Q3 Deluxe. Impressive.

For the P5Q, we swapped in a pair of Corsair Dominator DIMMs and were able to take them up to 1200MHz—89MHz beyond their rated speed of 1111MHz. Not bad at all.

Power consumption

We measured system power consumption, sans monitor and speakers, at the wall outlet using a Watts Up Pro power meter. Power consumption was measured at idle and under a load consisting of a multi-threaded Cinebench 10 render running in parallel with the “rthdribl” high dynamic range lighting demo.

In the graphs below you’ll find two instances of the Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 and the Asus P5Qs. We ran the Gigabyte board with and without its Dynamic Energy Saver (DES) feature enabled. The P5Qs were also run with and without their Energy Processing Units (EPU) enabled. We settled on Six Engine’s high performance energy savings mode since it’s the only one that doesn’t reduce system performance.

Even with loads of onboard peripherals, the P5Qs still manage incredibly low power consumption at idle and under load. The idle results are the most impressive, putting the boards a good 10W clear of their closest competition.

Considerably less impressive, however, are the EPU results. Six Engine’s high performance mode doesn’t do much for system power consumption at idle or under load. Dropping to low power mode does reduce idle and load power consumption to 96W and 140W, respectively, but that’s to be expected from a slower configuration. We also found that the EPU energy saving scheme wasn’t entirely stable on our P5Q3 Deluxe. The P5Q Deluxe was fine, though.

Memory performance

Memory subsystem performance doesn’t always track with real-world applications, but it’s a good place to start our performance benchmarks

The P5Qs look a little sluggish in this first wave of memory subsystem tests. Asus may want to spend some more time tuning the P45’s memory controller to bring the boards up to par with the rest of the pack.

Memory controllers don’t always handle four DIMMs gracefully, so we popped an additional two memory modules into each system for another round of tests. In these tests, we had to back off to a 2T command rate for the nForce 780i SLI, Rampage Formula, and DX48BT2—a common adjustment for four-DIMM configurations.

Adding DIMMs doesn’t change the performance picture much for the P5Qs; they’re still among the slowest in the field.

WorldBench

WorldBench uses scripting to step through a series of tasks in common Windows applications. It then produces an overall score.

The P5Qs start to come into their own in WorldBench, where they slot nicely into the middle of the pack. Interestingly, the DDR2-equipped P5Q is a hair faster here.

Gaming

Gaming seems to suit the P5Qs, although frame rates are pretty close across the board.

Motherboard peripheral performance

To provide a closer look at the peripheral performance you can expect from these motherboards, we’ve compiled Ethernet, USB, Firewire, Serial ATA, and audio performance results below. You’ll notice that there isn’t much variance from one board to another, but there are a few things worth pointing out. The P5Q Deluxe and P5Q3 Deluxe are highlighted and in bold to make them easier to pick out from the crowd.

NTttcp Ethernet

performance
Throughput (Mbps)
CPU utilization
(%)

Asus P5E3 Deluxe (88E8056)
939 14.6

Asus P5E3 Deluxe (RTL8169)
379 40.0

Asus P5K3 Deluxe (88E8056)
937 15.2

Asus P5K3 Deluxe (RTL8169)
362 37.8

Asus P5Q Deluxe (88E8001)
707 26.1

Asus P5Q Deluxe (88E8056)
939 16.3

Asus P5Q3 Deluxe (88E8001)
708 25.2

Asus P5Q3 Deluxe (88E8056)
940 19.9


Asus Rampage Formula (1)
941 17.6


Asus Rampage Formula (2)
943 15.4


Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 (1)
930 46.7


Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 (2)
931 46.6


Intel DX48BT2
941 13.3

XFX MB-N780-ISH9 (1)
819 21.5

XFX MB-N780-ISH9 (2)
814 20.5


XFX

MB-N790-IUL9 (1)
822 17.4


XFX

MB-N790-IUL9 (2)
829 21.6

This is why we hate seeing high-end motherboards saddled with PCI-based Gigabit Ethernet controllers. The Marvell 88E8001 on the P5Q and P5Q3 can’t match the throughput of the PCIe-based alternatives like the 88E8056. What’s worse, even while pushing less data, the 88E8001 still consumes more CPU cycles than the 88E8056.

HD Tach
Firewire performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P5E3 Deluxe
42.3 37.5 28.8 1.7

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
42.3 37.4 28.8 0.7

Asus P5Q Deluxe
42.2 37.5 28.8 1.3

Asus P5Q3 Deluxe
42.2 37.5 28.7 0.0

Asus Rampage Formula
33.1 30.1 21.7 1.0

Gigabyte X48T-DQ6
42.1 37.5 28.7 2.3

Intel DX48BT2
42.0 37.6 28.7 2.0

XFX MB-N780-ISH9
42.2 37.5 21.8 3.0


XFX

MB-N790-IUL9
42.2 37.6 21.8 1.3

The performance of the LSI Firewire chip used on the P5Qs looks pretty good.

HD Tach
USB performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)


CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P5E3 Deluxe
33.9 32.5 29.9 4.3

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
33.9 32.6 25.9 4.0

Asus P5Q Deluxe
32.9 32.6 29.0 7.3

Asus P5Q3 Deluxe
33.2 32.6 29.9 6.3

Asus Rampage Formula
33.9 32.6 29.9 5.7

Gigabyte X48T-DQ6
33.9 32.6 30.1 5.7

Intel DX48BT2
33.9 32.6 29.9 4.0

XFX MB-N780-ISH9
33.9 32.6 32.3 4.0


XFX

MB-N790-IUL9
33.9 32.6 32.3 7.7

USB transfer rates are solid, too, and with reasonable CPU utilization.

HD Tach
Serial ATA performance

Read burst

speed (MB/s)


Average read

speed (MB/s)


Average write

speed (MB/s)

Access time (ms)
CPU utilization

(%)


Asus P5E3 Deluxe
133.5 75.2 101.0 2.0 8.4

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
133.7 75.2 98.7 3.7 8.3

Asus P5Q Deluxe (ICH10R)
134.4 75.2 96.0 1.0 8.3

Asus P5Q Deluxe (SiI5723)

Asus P5Q3 Deluxe (ICH10R)
134.2 75.2 92.5 3.3 8.4

Asus P5Q3 Deluxe (SiI5723)
122.6 75.2 36.0 1.3 8.3

Asus Rampage Formula
132.7 75.2 93.7 3.3 8.4

Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 (GSATA)
129.5 75.2 47.4 5.3 8.1

Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 (ICH9R)
133.2 75.2 94.5 2.7 8.3

Intel DX48BT2
132.0 75.2 96.7 2.0 8.3

XFX MB-N780-ISH9
131.9 75.2 87.0 4.0 8.4


XFX

MB-N790-IUL9 (JMB362)
109.8 75.3 42.7 20.3 8.7


XFX

MB-N790-IUL9 (nForce 790i)
132.2 75.2 87.5 3.3 8.3

Single drives connected to our P5Q’s Silicon Image storage controller weren’t detected in Vista—a problem we’ll write off to pre-production hardware. The Silicon Image controller worked fine on the P5Q3, although its performance isn’t all that impressive. Burst rates are a little slow and write speeds leave much to be desired.

RightMark Audio
Analyzer audio quality

Overall score

Frequency response

Noise level

Dynamic range

THD

THD + Noise

IMD + Noise

Stereo Crosstalk

IMD at 10kHz

Asus P5E3 Deluxe
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

Asus P5K3 Deluxe
4 5 3 1 3 1 3 4 3

Asus P5Q Deluxe
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

Asus P5Q3 Deluxe
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

Asus Rampage Formula
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

Gigabyte X48T-DQ6
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

Intel DX48BT2
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 4

XFX MB-N780-ISH9
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

XFX nForce N790-IUL9
4 5 3 3 3 1 3 4 3

The audio output signal quality of the P5Qs is in-line with other enthusiast-oriented motherboards.

Conclusions

Apart from the inclusion of second generation PCI Express connectivity at the north bridge, Intel’s upcoming P45 chipset doesn’t pack much in the way of new features. However, based on our experiences with Asus’ P5Q and P5Q3 Deluxe motherboards, the die-shrunk P45 appears to have loads of overclocking headroom and very low power consumption to go along with solid performance. Those attributes certainly bode well for the P45’s bid to extend Intel’s mid-range chipset dynasty, particularly in enthusiast-oriented motherboards.

Motherboards like Asus’ P5Q and P5Q3 Deluxe, for example. These are the first P45 boards we’ve been able to test in our labs, and the initial results are encouraging. There’s still work to be done optimizing the performance of the boards’ memory subsystems, but at least in our application benchmarks, the P5Qs had no problems keeping up with the competition.

In usual Asus fashion, the P5Qs are loaded with onboard peripherals and unique extras. Integrating 802.11n Wi-Fi is a particularly nice touch, and with a few more applications, we think the embedded Express Gate Linux distribution could be an extremely valuable tool for enthusiasts and mainstream users alike. Unfortunately, we’re not so keen on Asus’ Six Engine energy saving scheme, which relies too heavily on throttling processor clock speeds to conserve power. Tree-hugging ecomentalists may be willing to live with slower systems, but we can’t imagine many enthusiasts will be interested in dialing back performance in the name of power consumption.

Asus has set the bar for P45 motherboards with its P5Q and P5Q3 Deluxe, but you won’t be able to buy either until June 2. Expect to pay $209 for the P5Q and $229 for the P5Q3 when the boards do become available. At those prices, the P5Qs will likely reside at the high end of the P45 spectrum. Fortunately, their extra features and peripherals easily justify the extra cost.

Comments closed
    • deruberhanyok
    • 11 years ago

    Looks like Newegg has the P5Q Deluxe in stock as of this morning. Although, there’s no mention of the wi-fi with it in the pictures or specs.

    Perhaps there’s a P5Q deluxe “wifi edition” as well? Nothing on Asus’ global site about it, seems that the DDR3 version is currently the only model listed to include the wi-fi.

    [edit]

    The P5Q Deluxe manual doesn’t have any mention of available onboard wi-fi, and it doesn’t look like there’s any kind of connection on the board for the wifi module. Maybe the P5Q3 Deluxe is the only one that supports it?

    It looks like there’s a space for another USB header on the regular P5Q (and, oddly, the header exists on the P5Q-E according to its manual), right where the wifi connects on the P5Q3… any chance of getting a few shots of it to see how they’re connected, or something like that?

    I’m mostly curious because the P5Q Deluxe looks like a great board, and if I could get my hands on the wifi adapter somewhere else and make use of it then it’s still good to go (though if it needs a USB connection there, the P5Q-E looks nice, too, and I’m really not sure what the difference between that and the P5Q Deluxe is now that I’m looking at the manuals).

    I wonder why Asus isn’t selling that thing separately for their boards…

    • strikeleader
    • 11 years ago

    Yet again TR drinks the Vista koolaide in it’s testing while the majority of us are still using the reliable, compatible and for the most part stable XP platform.

      • deruberhanyok
      • 11 years ago

      Seriously, it’s time to move on.

    • mattthemuppet
    • 11 years ago

    interesting to see how little difference Asus’ and Gigabyte’s energy saving apps make. Oddly, gigabyte’s DES makes some 7W difference at load – I thought these apps were all about lowering idle power.

    Otherwise impressive power consumption though. Be good if you could throw in an equivalent P35 board when you do a full/ post launch review.

    • crazybus
    • 11 years ago

    I’d like to see a Crossfire comparison between P35, P45 and X38/X48, just to see how the PCIe lane configuration affects performance.

    • fpsduck
    • 11 years ago

    It’s funny for me to see Gigabyte ads on ASUS review. 😀

    §[< http://www.techreport.com/r.x/asus-p5q3-deluxe/expressgate.jpg<]§

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    Just a quibble: One the first page ‘copper heatsinks’ are mentioned. All I see is lots of yellow dye/paint. Are the heatsinks underneath really copper, or Asus still doing that retarded ‘aluminum painted yellow == copper’ thing?

      • Dissonance
      • 11 years ago

      Since the P45 hasn’t been formally launched, we don’t have all the details on the chipset. I suspect it doesn’t include 802.11n, if only because Asus is using an external chip to provide Wi-Fi on the P5Qs.

      Express Gate doesn’t include a BIOS flashing utility. There is one integrated into the BIOS, though, and you can flash from an, er, flash drive.

      We haven’t has specific discussions about EFI with Asus.

        • deruberhanyok
        • 11 years ago

        Cool, thanks for the info, Dissonance. You guys are, as always, awesome.

        • Prototyped
        • 11 years ago

        It’s my understanding that ICH10 etc. will integrate a 10GigE MAC in place of the GigE Intel 82566DC on ICH8 and Intel 82566DC-2 on ICH9 that no one but Intel uses. (Well, vPro boards using Q35 such as the Asus P5E-VM DO do use it, because the AMT firmware requires it, but they aren’t exactly enthusiast boards.) It’d be interesting to see performance measurements.

          • Krogoth
          • 11 years ago

          10GigE NIC? Holy cow. How many PCIe lanes does that sucker take? More importantly, there is no consumer-grade medium that can handle such bandwidths either (CAT7 is not finallized and fiber is not cheap). 😉

            • Kurotetsu
            • 11 years ago

            Doesn’t Cat6 support 10 gigabit? Thats readily available and cheap (according to Monoprice anyway).

            It is true that there are no consumer grade routers or switches that can spit out that can kind of speed though.

            • reactorfuel
            • 11 years ago

            Plain Cat6 will support medium-distance (~50m) runs of 10gigE. To maintain Ethernet’s traditional 100 meter maximum, it needs shielded Cat6a cable.

            • Prototyped
            • 11 years ago

            Category 6a (A for “augmented”) cabling is still unshielded. It has more filler between pairs, making the cables thicker and stiffer, and has more twists per inch, making it more brittle.

            Category 7 shields each individual pair, as well as the whole cable itself.

            • Prototyped
            • 11 years ago

            It doesn’t take any lanes, the MII being integrated into the southbridge. (The southbridge itself continues to be attached using DMI, which is similar to 4 or 6 PCI Express 2.0 lanes, so I’d expect it to be bandwidth-constricted there.)

            Category 6 cabling supports 10GBASE-T up to 55 metres and Category 6a cabling supports it up to 100 metres.

    • reactorfuel
    • 11 years ago

    The board is nice and all, but I’m having a hard time figuring out why it’s worth more than $200. I can get a solid P35 board with similarly good performance and power consumption for less than $100. Sure, it doesn’t include stuff like an 802.11n adapter, but I don’t need that and could buy a PCI adapter for it anyway. That doesn’t even get into sillier stuff like twin gigE ports that will never see any use on 95% of the boards sold. The multiple “x16” slots are OK, but anybody who wants a multi-GPU setup can go for nVidia or just pick up an HD3870X2, and besides graphics cards and server hardware, there’s not much non-x1 PCIe hardware out there.

    It’s not just this board, of course. “Premium” motherboards seem to have a hard time justifying their existence. Once you get out of the low build quality doldrums, one desktop motherboard is pretty much the same as another for most users. The new midrange stuff might not be as sexy to review, but I’d be much more interested in seeing it.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      The cheapest Raid southbridge mobos are around $130 from the tier-1 manufacturers.

    • Prototyped
    • 11 years ago

    No P35 DDR2 configuration? That’s the most practical (and most common, I imagine) enthusiast configuration right now, and the P5Q is only compared with a DDR3 board with its direct predecessor (P35) in this review. Even if DDR3 prices /[https://techreport.com/articles.x/12737/2<]§ But it's not directly applicable because of the different video card, OS (Vista x64 vs Vista x86) and hard disk.

    • edh
    • 11 years ago

    I’d like to point out that Asus is stonewalling in their response to Gigabyte over the power saving features and high quality capacitors: Gigabyte said NOTHING about the new “Q” series boards from Asus. Gigabyte claims that Asus lied about those features on its older “K” series boards. It is Asus who is claiming that the “Q” series boards prove Gigabyte wrong to which Gigabyte has pointed out that Asus’s supposed proof is irrelevant.

    • flip-mode
    • 11 years ago

    Well, I’m totally unimpressed. It’s a good chipset with low power and decent features, but it doesn’t seem like a next generation from the P35. That’s all Intel wanted but it’s just not impressive. And ICH10R gets a big yawn too. They could have added more native SATA channels.

    Maybe they’ve been focusing on G45.

    • eitje
    • 11 years ago

    page 6: q[

      • Peldor
      • 11 years ago

      And near the top of page 7: complied -> compiled

    • deepthought86
    • 11 years ago

    Thank you Intel, for removing IDE drive support. You saved us some hassle and money, because every mb maker now adds an extra chip to bring back this functionality… oh wait

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 11 years ago

    Damn guys I can’t wait to dive into this review, much appreciated.

    • dragmor
    • 11 years ago

    More for show (useless) heat pipes/sinks crowding the CPU sockets.

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    Memtest and other diagnostic applets would be a big plus for ExpressGate.

    You know, if they added a media player you could get a lot of use out of this in an HTPC without ever booting Windows.

      • DrDillyBar
      • 11 years ago

      I was thinking the same

    • UberGerbil
    • 11 years ago

    The only thing weirder than offering just one PS/2 port is making it /[

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